Jungle are a London based Soul/Funk band who gained success following a number of accompanying videos uploaded onto youtube which got the band and their music noticed.
Jungle are essentially a faceless band with their live performances not displaying a front man or woman as everyone seems to get in on the vocal in this type of Earth Wind & Fire sound.
I discovered the band through their song “Busy Earnin'” which I voted my song of 2014. It is a song I cannot praise enough due to the funk that flows through it, the great bassline, the falsetto harmonies – it is such a magnificent song. The synth horns create a gorgeous sounds and the smoothness of funk it presents is music to my ears.
The album opens with “The Heat” which is a catchy dance/funk number. It’s faint sirens in the background are to give another sense of the word “heat”. Despite such a fierce title the song is actually quite light and airy.
There is certainly a more chilled out / post club feel about “Accelerate”. I love the production on this song, I adore the spaced out feel that the track gives. It sounds like very early Jamiroquai with a bit of Daft Punk mixed in.
One of the most popular viral videos Jungle released was for the track “Platoon”. This track is one of the albums standout songs and again it’s more of a chilled tune and not in the vain of “Busy Earnin’ which is certainly a song to play loudly on a good quality sound system.
The breezy relaxed sounds take a further delve into this territory with “Drops”. This is a song to really kick back to. The soulful sound of the vocals with a very minimal musical accompaniment sets an atmosphere in this tale about loving someone for too long.
After falling into a relaxed lull during the previous few tracks, “Time” increases the tempo in what is one of the albums highlights. The problem the album is having at this moment is that big songs like “Platoon” and “Time” are blurred a little by the tracks either side of them which do not have the memorability.
“Smoke Pixels” which follows “Time” falls into that category.
The album by this point is struggling to come together collectively. Some of the tracks individually sound wonderful but like so many albums I listen to, when they are put together in a clump the familiar patter in terms of lyrics and production style can be a little tiresome.
“Julia” brings back the bigger funk sound and has a great hook. This is probably more of what you would have expected from Jungle on their debut album but whilst I have no problem with a more Neo Soul/Chilled out funk sound we get a taste of they can do with bigger pop orientated tracks and feel as though we should have had some more.
“Crumbler” has a lovely little guitar rift which carries the song through. This is one of those tracks I would nod my head to and appreciate the sonic caressing I am receiving. The whole thing is incredibly soulful.
“Son of a gun” and “Lucky I got what I want” are two disappointing tracks which do sadly act as filler. The latter sounds like a pieced together off cut of all the other tracks on the album.
“Lemonade Lake” finishes the album off and it is a track never seems to take off despite threatening to do so initially. The song is about missing someone and reminiscing about your time together with them.
Lyrically there is nothing on the Jungle album to be interested in but the production and atmosphere created on the album (which lasts just 39 minutes) is impressive at points.
The problem with it is that 12 tracks you will only recall 3 or 4 of them. This is where the album really falls down and quashes any call for it being a ‘great’ debut album. The heights it manages to reach on “Busy Earnin’ and “Time” are as good as anything you will hear in my opinion – but then the chilled out Moby like tracks whilst pleasant lack any edge to turn Jungle into something special.
There is room for improvement and if Jungle can branch (no pun intended) into some bigger sounds using more instruments I can see their next offering being something extraordinary.
As a live band I have seen I cannot recommend them highly enough. I would like to see Jungle become bigger and bolder in their future work as I do not seem them as just a post club dance band and more as a potential funk soul sensation.